YOUTH and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna has urged Jamaicans to be vigilant in the fight against child abuse.
Hanna, who was speaking at the recent launch of "Operation SAVE 50" at the Providence Methodist Church in Kingston, noted that children make up 33 per cent of the population and that statistics provided by the Office of the Children's Registry showed that sexual offenders were known to these children. The offenders include stepmothers, stepfathers, uncles, mothers, fathers, and granduncles.
She mentioned recently reported cases of abuse against children and urged citizens to join in the campaign to eradicate what she described as the "culture of child abuse" in the country.
The minister, meanwhile, encouraged persons to report child abuse and provide information on agencies that can be contacted, adding that failure to report such cases implied complicity and is an offence against the law.
Operation SAVE 50 is one of several programmes being undertaken by the Methodist Church in recognition of Jamaica's 50 years as an Independent Nation and in keeping with its sub-theme 'Nurture the children: Build the Kingdom".
SAVE — the acronym for Secure, Appreciate, Value, and Encourage -- is seeking to address major concerns regarding the safety, well-being, worth, and achievement of children, which the church believes is threatening to erode the nation's achievements over the past 50 years.
Said the church: "The overarching objective of the project is to help children know and understand that they are precious to God; to know themselves and their issues, and to encourage them to enter into a meaningful relationship with Christ, and in so doing to maximise their potential and be all that they can be."
The programme will embrace children, especially those at risk, under 18 years in its congregations and communities surrounding the 171 churches of the 27 circuits of the Jamaica Methodist District. It is expecting approximately 1,350 children to benefit in the first year.
Some areas of focus will be:
* encouraging children to attend worship;
* sponsoring children to attend district camps;
* encouraging children to
attend Sunday school;
* helping children in
understanding and deciding
their purpose in life;
* providing assistance with
homework and monitoring
* providing assistance with
school research projects;
* providing access to
computers, where needed;
* providing grants for books,
uniforms, examination fees,
and transportation etc; and
* promoting sports and other
Minister Hanna congratulated the Methodist Church on the launch of the programme and gave the assurance that it had her full endorsement. She encouraged the Church to share the concept of the project with the Jamaica Council of Churches and see if it could be adopted as a blueprint by the entire religious community, the fight against child abuse would be significantly strengthened.
In launching the project, Rev Everald Galbraith, president of the Methodist Church, Jamaica District said: "This is a small contribution from one denomination to the development of our children, our nation and the Kingdom of God. We [hope for] the full support of all our members and the blessings of Almighty God.
"As president of the Methodist Church Jamaica District, I call upon all our circuits, all our members and all well-thinking citizens and residents in Jamaica to seek and save at least 50 children by August 2013, said Galbraith.